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Journal Article

Plasma-etched functionalized graphene as a metal-free electrode catalyst in solid acid fuel cells


Li,  Fan
Nano-Systems from Ions, Spins and Electrons, Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Lu, X., Yang, X., Tariq, M., Li, F., Steimecke, M., Li, J., et al. (2020). Plasma-etched functionalized graphene as a metal-free electrode catalyst in solid acid fuel cells. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 8(5), 2445-2452. doi:10.1039/C9TA10821A.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-836D-A
The Oxygen and nitrogen plasma treatment were applied to produce graphene with abundant edges, oxygen functional groups, and nitrogen doping. The plasma-etched graphene was then used as a metal-free electrocatalyst in a solid acid fuel cell. Scanning electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy were used to characterize the graphene layers. Alternating-current impedance spectroscopy of a hybrid electrode containing the plasma-etched graphene and cesium dihydrogen phosphate as proton-conducting solid acid illustrated its remarkable catalytic activity under cathodic conditions. Thus, both O2 and N2 plasma treatment activated the material. While O2 plasma was a more effective activator than N2 plasma, it also resulted in higher degradation rates. A combination of density functional theory calculations and experimental results indicated that zigzag carbon was the most active site for the oxygen reduction reaction on both O2 and N2 plasma-etched graphene. Furthermore, the armchair carbons adjacent to the surface oxygen groups and doped heteroatoms were also important active sites for O2 and N2 plasma-etched graphene, respectively. The results of this study will guide future endeavors in the development of non-precious metal catalysts for use as fuel cell cathodes.